Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

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Published on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Faith Based Substance Abuse Treatment Programs: bridging the gap and joining forces with private and governmental drug and alcohol rehabilitation agencies.


Faith Based Recovery Impact

“I speak from more than 20 years of knowledge of the organization when I tell you, Teen Challenge works. It is effective; it is literally changing lives of young Americans from every walk of life. The work and dedication of Teen Challenge deserves the commendation of every citizen.”  President Ronald Reagan

Faith Based Treatment Programs have had a tremendous unique impact on the landscape of the drug treatment community for many decades. From the Salvation Army to Teen Challenge, Union Mission, Catholic Charities and the YMCA, the responsibility to engage the needs of the most hopeless, marginalized and drug addicted individuals of our society has historically fallen to the faith-based communities. Recent forays onto this field by the secular and governmental community have overshadowed this continuing successful work of the Faith Based community because of separation of Church and State. For over 59 years, Teen Challenge, the organization that I serve and graduated from in 1985, has restored my life as well as 50 of my family member’s. It has compiled a track record of success that has impressed medical science and amazed the families of those who have seen the miracles of changed lives. Teen Challenge alone has over 1,600 programs in 125 Countries with over 35,000 beds of residential rehabilitation treatment in the USA and Worldwide.

The mission of the President’s Opioid Task Force outlined in the Executive Order is to “study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to the drug addiction and opioid crisis … and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.”  After personally attending the Opioid Commission Meeting as Mariano Rivera's representative at the White House, there were many types of treatment programs such as clinical, psychiatric, private and other secular “nonsectarian” programs, and medical short-term rehabilitation. At this meeting there was no representation of Faith Based Recovery Treatment Programs recognized or mentioned.

In light of the Presidential Mandate, I would like to propose that the Federal Government intentionally engage, recognize, support, and fund the Faith Based community in its war against the Drug and Opioid Crisis. The inclusion of Faith Based programs will add to the Government’s arsenal; willing volunteers, thousands of additional residential long-term treatment beds, a cost effective proven recovery system, and will multiply and reproduce qualified staff and mentors who can relate to the addicts way of life, thus providing people of faith a resource. 

Recognizing that, if and when, the Federal Government allocates funding for Faith Based programs, these programs must fit a standard of the proposed Policies and Procedures that Teen Challenge has developed over the last 59 years, and is a requirement for any Teen Challenge program to exist.   


The Problem

In 2015, there was a total of 1140,404 drug and alcohol related deaths in the United States. In 2016, there were 64,000 deaths attributed to drugs, and 20,000 deaths attributes to 2Synthetic opioids. The severity of the issue requires long-term residential Faith Based Treatment. With only 3,678 clinical residential treatment centers, there are not enough long-term facilities in the United States to solve the Drug and Opioid Epidemic problem.

The Drug and Opioid Crisis has devastated the United States in recent years. It has gotten to the point where traditional secular rehabilitation centers are now strained and overburdened with the influx of those seeking help.

3Most addicts do not get treatment because of the cost involved. In 2015, only 2.5 million people received treatment, this represents only 11% of the 23 million addicted population. With over $34 billion spent on treatment averaging $162,000 per addict. With most insurance companies only covering 28 days of residential treatment, and only use the clinical model, the average addict is excluded from receiving the necessary long-term residential care.


How We Address The Problem

The Faith Based Model for rehabilitation has been proven successful for decades. Studies have been conducted and have proven that Faith has helped in healing many other diseases, including addiction. In addition, most Faith Based Programs are Non-Profit and long term (6-12 months). These programs charge a very minimal monthly fee and enrollment is not based on health insurance or financial qualifications.

One of the reasons Faith Based Programs are successful is because it allows for the addict to connect with their Higher Power and take a spiritual inward evaluation. We have found that addicts that connect to something spiritual are more conducive to becoming rehabilitated than with medication alone. Faith bridges the gap between healing and medication and has the ability to do what medication alone cannot.

The Faith Based Therapeutic Approach introduces Faith into the addict’s spirit that reaches into their soul not only having a mind transformation, but a heart transformation through the Power of God. This in turn, breaks the addiction, and empowers them to overcome future temptations, thus walking in true freedom in their lifetime of recovery.

One study by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Substance Abuse (Ruth M Arnold, Ph.D.,  S. Kelly Avants, Ph.D. and Arthur Margolin) found, “Those people who have a strong religious faith may find their fear eased by the idea of having spiritually based treatment.”

Another study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment indicates that a significant majority of participants credited spirituality as giving them a feeling of strength to be able to recover as well as a sense of safety and protection during the process.

Faith Based Rehabilitation Programs address the problem by providing the addict with the resources needed to connect to that Higher Power as part of their daily discipline. Through prayer, meditation and Faith Based curriculum, they help guide the addict to recovery, healing and restoration. Through this process, the addict is also introduced to a Faith Based community that allows for weekly attendance at a Church, Temple, Synagogue or other places of worship. These fellowship meetings keep them connected to their Faith long after rehabilitation has ended. While long-term rehabilitation can last up to a year, the attendance to the places of worship by recovered addicts can last a lifetime.


The Faith Based Solution

The hour has come to act in face of the Opioid Crisis for the Federal Government to establish a Faith Based Administration that will oversee, qualify, and regulate funding for Faith Based Programs designated to provide housing, buildings, and beds for the addict. For the past 59 years, Teen Challenge has developed Accreditation Standards that consists of compliances of Policies and Procedures.

Every Teen Challenge program must comply with these Policies and Procedures in order to qualify. These Policies and Procedures focus on 90 Standards that can be summed up into seven categories:

  • Facility Management
  • Fiscal Management
  • Client Management
  • Staff Management
  • Administrative Management
  • Academic Management
  • Constitution and Bylaws Management

Faith Based Programs will help expand capacity and add thousands of beds to the existing secular inventory of residential treatment. The cost to rehabilitate 24,000 patients at a secular program would be $8,640,000,0005 (eight billion six hundred forty million).  A Faith Based program like Teen Challenge can rescue the same number of people at a cost of only $840 million6, a savings of $7,800,000,000 (seven billion eight hundred million, a 928% savings).

 A Faith Based Program like Teen Challenge will successfully recover 16,800 patients at a proven 70% success rate. The Faith Based model heals 2,233% more patients. The return on investment for the Federal Government funds is noticeably higher, while at the same time providing proven results.

With Governmental Funding, we can provide Hope and Healing to multitudes of hurting and addicted people and be a vital part of the solution joining The Presidential Opioid Task Force to make America Great Again…Healing the Broken Hearted and Fulfilling Dreams! 


“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61: 1-3




1 Alcohol deaths 88,000 “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-facts-and-statistics. Accessed 8/25/17

“Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Aug. 2017,    www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm655051e1.htm.  Accessed 8/25/17

2National Center for Health Statistics https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-  death-rates

3 Munro, Dan. “Inside The $35 Billion Addiction Treatment Industry.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Apr. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2015/04/27/inside-the-35-billion-addiction-treatment-industry/#223469bf17dc. Accessed 8/25/17

4 Teen Challenge has 8,000 existing beds plus 15,000 beds gives us 24,000.

5 24,000 beds at TC x average cost of secular treatment of $360,000 per year.

6 24,000 beds at TC x $35,000 (average cost of yearly treatment)